Deformed Mountain Lion With Teeth Growing Out of Head Puzzles Biologists

deformed-mountain-lion
The mountain lion was shot in southeastern Idaho and had a very strange deformity with teeth and whiskers growing out of its head. Idaho Department of Fish and Game

A hunter shot a mountain lion in southeastern Idaho with a very unusual deformity. The animal, which was legally killed December 30, had two teeth and whiskers extending from the back of its head.

A photograph of the mountain lion was sent to the Idaho Fish and Game's Southeast Regional Office in Pocatello to identify the deformity, but biologists there were baffled.

"It has all of us scratching our heads," biologist Zack Lockyer told the Idaho State Journal. "It's a bizarre situation and a bizarre photo."

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game clarified in a statement that the photo and the mountain lion are very much real, and that the deformity was probably caused in one of two ways. One possibility: It's the result of a rare tumor called a teratoma. These cancerous growths, found in animals and humans, can develop teeth, hair, other body parts and even neural tissue. This is the most likely probability. Another possibility is that "the teeth could be the remnants of a conjoined twin that died in the womb and was absorbed into the other fetus," which developed into this adult cougar, the department noted.

Mountain lions, also known as cougars, pumas, panthers and catamounts, are common in Idaho, and can be legally hunted at various times of year. This animal was tracked and shot after it attacked a man's dog near Preston, Idaho.

Deformed Mountain Lion With Teeth Growing Out of Head Puzzles Biologists | Tech & Science